How To Become A Firefighter In Idaho


how to become a firefighter in Idaho

While the state of Idaho relies heavily on its voluntary firefighter service to provide care for its citizens, many are left asking how to become a firefighter in Idaho?

It can seem as though it is easy to get into the fire service in this state because of the minimal requirements and ratio of volunteer to career positions.

How to Become a Firefighter in Idaho

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Possess a current National Registry or state-issued EMT Basic Certification by date of job offer, with the ability to obtain reciprocity in Idaho within 120 days of employment and maintain certification (career departments)

As you can see, the minimum requirements are very straightforward. They represent the bare minimum as departments want to get as many recruits as possible.

The only factors they won’t budge on are the minimum age, the basic educational qualifications, the candidate’s residency and the driver’s license.

From there, most new applicants have a shot of getting into training programs and progressing through the ranks. Below I will talk more about what it means to be a firefighter in Idaho, where to train and some of the opportunities in fire departments.

Firefighting in Idaho

The majority of positions in Idaho fire departments are voluntary as community-minded individuals work to keep their towns safe from fire and flood risks.

There aren’t too many major requirements for new recruits that want to join a department as a volunteer. The standards are similar to those elsewhere in the US.

Those that apply for career positions will need to check with local departments to see what the expectations are to work in those departments.

Some cities may have specific screening requirements or fitness expectations. Career positions will also require a certain level of training and EMT certification.

A recent initiative in Idaho has put a lot more money and resources into a Rural Fire Readiness program. The idea here is that smaller rural departments can receive new pumps, engines, and other tools at no costs to help them prepare for wildfires in the state.

Wildfires and wildland management are big issues across America but rural states like Idaho need these improvements. This year there were 85 departments that covered an area of 138,656 acres.

The repurposed equipment from the Bureau of Land Management should help a smaller area handle wildfires more effectively. This is good news for all those training to become an Idaho wildland firefighter that may have been concerned about the tools available.

Fire Academies In Idaho

There is no statutory requirement in Idaho for volunteer firefighters or new recruits in these departments to become certified firefighters.

However, it is a good idea for those that want to progress within the fire service and obtain a career position in the future. A college education is a good starting point with either standard training courses or other fire science degree options.

The following cities and towns have colleges and fire academies where recruits can learn new skills. There may be other options in your local area, so it pays to talk to local community colleges and fire departments to learn more.

Idaho Falls is perhaps the best option when looking for how to become a firefighter in Idaho.

There are two major training facilities here including the College of Southern Idaho and the Eastern Idaho Technical College.

However, there are other options across the state including a course at the State University campus in Pocatello.

The Eastern Idaho Technical College is a brilliant resource for those interested in joining the service because of their range of options.

They claim to test around 7000 students each year over 200 related courses. They are the central point for training in the state because of the lack of minimum testing standards in Idaho.

They work hard to communicate with over 240 departments to provide some form of cohesion and help volunteers improve their chances of getting hired in career positions.

Now better known as the CEI, the college offers a Fire Service Technology Degree for volunteer firefighters in the region.

It is designed to improve the skills of students to help them work towards achieving their firefighter 1 certification.

The skills and certification achieved here can help volunteers progress into other roles in Idaho or other states. They are in the process of applying for IFSAC Accreditation.  You can learn more about the program here

An alternative option here is their Wildland Fire Management AAS Degree course.

This program is for those that are already qualified as career firefighters and want to progress further with their skills and knowledge. Students must complete 16 credits of work during their studies. You can learn more about the program here

Over in Pocatello, at the state university, students can take part in an associate or Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Services Administration.

The aim here is to help those with a fire service background adapt to new roles in their department (usually promotions to officer/administrative level positions). It focuses on management skills and other factors to help turn fire officers into skilled leaders. This is particularly helpful to smaller more rural departments.

Major Fire Departments in Idaho

The following is a list of major fire departments in Idaho. While this is not a comprehensive list, you won’t go wrong pursuing a position at any of these departments.

How to Become a Idaho Falls Firefighter

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Possess a current National Registry or state-issued EMT Basic Certification by date of job offer, with the ability to obtain reciprocity in Idaho within 120 days of employment and maintain certification (career departments)

Those that train in Idaho Falls may prefer to stay in the local area and find a role within their fire department.

By that point, you may already have some experience and connections within the department because of your experience at the college.

The service area in Idaho Falls is quite large because this is a department that covers the town of Idaho Falls and much of the surrounding area.

As a result, there are more homes, businesses and other structures to take care of in this jurisdiction. There are approximately 108,000 residents within this 350 square mile area.

The pace and feel of the area and lack of density means that there are fewer incidents than in major cities. In 2017, they handled 11,000. To learn more about the Idaho Falls Fire Department click here.

How to Become a Boise, ID Firefighter

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Possess a current National Registry or state-issued EMT Basic Certification by date of job offer, with the ability to obtain reciprocity in Idaho within 120 days of employment and maintain certification (career departments)

Boise is a great department to talk about here because of the difference in size and population. The city covers 130 square miles, so there is a much smaller area to cover than in Idaho Falls.

However, there are more than double the amount of people in this dense city.

It is, in fact, the largest in the state. There are 17 fire stations across the city to help coordinate responses.

At the time of writing, the city has a department with more than 300 firefighters to cover their fire prevention, emergencies and other divisions. Find about more about Boise Fire here

How to Become a Meridian, ID Firefighter

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Possess a current National Registry or state-issued EMT Basic Certification by date of job offer, with the ability to obtain reciprocity in Idaho within 120 days of employment and maintain certification (career departments)

Then there is the city of Meridian. The reason that I have included Meridian is because of the minimum requirements for their Firefighter/Paramedic roles.

They want similar qualifications with a high school diploma but also require a current EMT certificate and 1 year of full-time paid firefighting experience. There are also tough screening measures for physical fitness, English comprehension, mechanical aptitude and firefighter interviews.

This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise because the city is the second-largest in the state and requires a professional appearance at all times.

There are currently 5 stations, a safety center and a public safety training center across the city.

This is soon planned to expand with a 6th station. This suggests that Meridian has a strong budget and a desire to improve its department to help its citizens.  You can learn more about the city’s department here.

Job Prospects for Firefighters in Idaho

Employment for firefighters in the Midwest isn’t particularly high compared with other regions of America. This is partly due to the population density of the states.

Idaho doesn’t have quite so many opportunities as its neighbors of Washington and Oregon.

In 2018, there were 1550 employed in the state with a ratio of 2.2 per 1000 jobs.

The average mean annual wage isn’t that high, with the 2018 figure averaging at $40,490. Montana, which is in a similar employment bracket, offered nearly 10k more.

Finally, one of the most interesting things about Idaho is the way that the state appears to be trying to catch up with others.

There are many volunteer positions and issues with a lack of cohesion on minimum training standards. The range of training options and the push for accreditation at the CEI shows that desire to raise standards and the quality of service.

New recruits have a chance to enter the fire service with minimum qualifications as a volunteer and work their way up with better training, career positions, wildland training and managerial skills.

If you’re interested in how to become a firefighter in Idaho, there is a lot of opportunity for a long prosperous career here.

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